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May 2, 2009 09:33 AM

Surinam/West Indies (or Indonesian) in Calgary

My step-grandmother was from Suriname, and lived for a brief time in British Guyana. She married my grandfather, who was Dutch but was born in Indonesia. She spent most of her life in Alberta, but always loved her "spicy food".

We're now beginning to understand that her cooking was a fusion of her own cuisine from Suriname (which I now realize is itself a fusion of many cuisines, including Dutch, Indian, West African, Creole and Indonesian) and British Guyana, and the Dutch/Indonesian cuisine of my grandfather.

Anyway, she past away 2 years ago at a very old age with a modest estate divided into many small portions. The inheritance cheques have arrived, and we want to spend some of the money on a memorial dinner.

We could probably go to any Caribbean place or Indonesian place and toast her appropriately. It would have to be a sitdown place. I see Bali is still around, downtown now, is it any good? Is Restaurant Indonesia still around?

Any recommendations for sit-down Carribbean food?

Or, even better, are there any Guyanese or Surinamer places in Calgary?

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  1. I'd be shocked if there are more than a couple of Surinamese restos in all of North America. Indonesian, yes. I know nothing of Bali but it is obviously Indonesian.

    Guyana and Suriname have very different ethnic profiles and cuisines- Guyana is like Trinidadian which is here but thin on the ground; if you want pure Guyanese you'll have to fly to Toronto, but there is such overlap between TT and Guyana that such a move would be strange- and again, Guyanese and Surinamese food will be very different.

    10 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Fortunately, my step-grandmother was multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. What about Trinidad/Tobago sit-down places in Calgary?

      1. re: JAbraham

        I was at Bali a few weeks ago for lunch. The food was pretty good, but I don't have a lot of reference points for what good Indonesian food is. I thought the spicey beef dish I ordered could have been spicier but I like very spicey food. The overall flavour pallet in the dishes we ordered was very good although most people at lunch thought it was a bit boring.

        The service was also very hit and miss, quick to get the menu and order in but then outrageously slow to get drinks and dessert was a 40 minute wait.

        I'd definitely go back again as the food was very interesting, well cooked, and well presented... I just need a wider base of Indonesian experience to know if it was "authentic".

        1. re: JAbraham

          There are none- not as you're envisioning. You can get TT food at Organettes (I think, google it) and Roti Hut in the NE but one is bar with food very much secondary and the second is order at the counter and not all that great.

          There are TONS, dozens and dozens, of trini places in Toronto (and lots of Guyanese too), so maybe take your inheritance and have a meetup there? Or fly to Surinam? Or use google to find where the surinamese expats are? Miami maybe? The Netherlands definitely...

          1. re: John Manzo

            If the inheritance was larger flying to Toronto or The Netherlands would be under consideration! But they were poor immigrants, and she lived to 93. I think we need something in Calgary.

            Restaurant Indonesia at 14th St and 16th Ave SW is still showing up on google, but the phone numbers that come up seem to be dead. Maybe I'll drive by and see if they're still there.

            1. re: JAbraham

              It's been gone for a couple of years. No need to drive by. It's been Oishii Vllage for quite a while now.

              1. re: JAbraham

                You know, you COULD just cook! We make a great beef rendang at home, and gado-gado is easy too!

                1. re: John Manzo

                  Well if we're going to eat at home, we could get take-away food! What about take-away Caribbean? There must be some takeaway Trinidad/Guyana places around, or we could slide over into Jamaican take-away and not tell anyone.

                  The easiest solution is probably to go to Bali. We might have even taken my step-grandmother there a couple of decades ago. If I remember correctly, it wasn't specifically Balinese, and there were lots of Dutch people dining there.

                  Or we could cook, which would also be fun, but then we'd have to figure out something else to do with the modest inheritance!

                  1. re: JAbraham

                    Bali's only been open since around 2002- it was a high-end Vietnamese place before that.

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      There was a restaurant named Bali on 17th Ave SW for many years, in a strip mall near Sarcee Trail.

                      I just assumed they moved downtown recently, the logo looks the same to me.

                      1. re: JAbraham

                        I remember that place. It was good. We thought that the 14th st location was the same people because of the timing but somehow the food was never as good after the move so we could be wrong.

        2. What a fun and funny conundrum. A restaurant named Bali might not be right because a lot of Balinese food is different from elsewhere in Indonesia. As others have said, Surinam is quite different from Guyana - which is somewhat similar to TT. Of course, Surinam is interesting for having Dutch, East Indian, and others in Parimaribo. Foods include Chinese, Indonesian, American and others. Surinam also has long had black ex-slave groups - such as the Djuka, Paramaca, and Saramaca - who have their own languages and who went back to the bush to a rather west African life style, including their foods. Then there are the indigeneous Indian groups whose diets are similar to those of indigenous groups of the Amazon.

          I guess I'd keep up the search for a good Indonesian restaurant. My Dutch friends in Holland order in Indonesian food when they order in.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            What's amazing is that I never though to ask her what food was from her native Suriname, what was from British Guyana, and what was brought to her by my Grandfather via The Netherlands and Indonesia. (When my grandfather was alive he didn't let her into the kitchen too much -- he liked to cook his Dutch and Indonesian dishes.)

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Hi, a quick reply from a Dutchie who just returned from Suriname:
              As said, the Surinamese cuisine is indeed a unique mix of Indonesian, Hindustani, African(Creole), Dutch, Chinese, etc. (I could even add Lebanese here and a few other groups). And yes, it's very different from Guyanese. For the "Indonesian" influence, this is definately Java-Indonesian. It's called simply "Javanese" in Suriname. When you ask for "indonesian" they usually have no clue what you are talking about. This in contrast to The Netherlands where most of the Indonesians came from the Maluku islands. They were in the Dutch army, much like the ghurka's. However when Idonesia gained independence most of the maluku's had to flee and moved to The Netherlands. So: different parts of history, different parts of Indonesia, different cuisines.

            2. They just use the name Bali because Bali is the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia. By no means, Balinese food can represent Indonesian cuisine. Indonesia is such a big country and because of the archipelagos, the cuisine of an island can be very different than the others.

              But internationally, Indonesian cuisine usually represented by Gado-gado (salad with peanut sauce), Krupuk (shrimp cracker), Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Rendang (beef curry), Sate (well...satay) and the most important Kecap Manis (sweet soya sauce).

              For me Kecap Manis is the only ingredient that defines Indonesian cuisine. Go to T&T and get Kecap Manis with ABC or Bango brand, then you have access to one of the main essence/flavour of Indonesian cuisine.

              But please please please be aware that Indonesian cuisine should not be pigeon holed to those dishes I mentioned above. It is way way more than that. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to access the depth of its cuisine from here in Canada.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jojok

                The only Surinamese restaurant I have been to that was not in either Suriname or The Netherlands was in NYC. food-wise it was allright, but it was more for being back in Suriname for a moment than the food itself that I liked this place:

                Warung Kario
                128-12 Liberty Ave, Queens, NY 11419